HMS Portland Conducts Home Town Visit

HMS Portland Conducts Home Town Visit

HMS Portland, the Plymouth based frigate has conducted a successful home town visit to Portland and Weymouth between 17 – 20 May 13.

The ship’s crew were hosted by the Mayor of Weymouth and Portland, Margaret Leicester, at a civic reception after exercising the ship’s crew’s right to parade through Weymouth – a traditional ceremonial Freedom Parade.

Councillor Margaret Leicester said:

“This has been a really successful day and we are delighted to have our sailors from HMS Portland on parade. Our affiliation is extremely important to the people of Portland and Weymouth and we look forward to watching the ship emerge from her current trails package; ready for operational tasking.”

The Commanding Officer, Commander Sarah West said:

It is a real honour for me and my ship’s company to be here in Portland to exercise the Freedom of the Borough. This is an important occasion in HMS Portland’s history and more poignant given that this is our first port visit post our extensive refit.”

She added:

“The people of Portland and Weymouth have made us feel most welcome and we look forward to continuing this strong relationship over the coming years.”

The ship exercised the Freedom of the Borough with the crew marching through the centre of the town, led by Her Majesty’s Royal Marine Band, from Commando Training Centre, Lympstone.

The freedom privilege allows the honour and distinction of marching through the streets of the Borough of Weymouth and Portland on all ceremonial occasions, with drums beating, colours flying and bayonets fixed.

The Freedom of the Borough was conferred to HMS Portland in 2009 and has only been exercised by the ship once before back in 2011.

The service and parade were extremely well supported by the people of the borough who came out in the sunshine to support their sailors march from the Cenotaph in Weymouth to the Pavillion theatre.

The last time HMS Portland visited its home town was back in 2010 to mark its 10th birthday.

Four members of the crew were hosted by the Royal Naval Association (Portland Branch) at their Annual dinner where the guest of honour was the Naval Regional Commander for the Western area, Commodore Jamie Miller.

He said the event was a chance to bring together young sailors and older shipmates who have contributed so significantly to our military history.

He stressed the relationship between the public and the navy was as important today as it has ever been with this year’s 70 Anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic serving as a reminder of the importance of keeping the UK’s Sea Lines of Communication open.

Ten energetic HMS Portland sailors also completed the infamously gruelling ‘Round the Rock the Hard Way’ race. There was a choice of a 5-mile route or an 11-mile route around Portland Bill, with both routes traversing Chesil Beach before going up a near vertical hill that reduced many to walking.

Steward Kemo Kassama, 36, ran the race. He said:

“It was a very tough and challenging race, but I am really pleased to have finished in one piece. It is a big sense of achievement for me although my ‘sea legs’ are now very tired!”

The ship has completed a 12-month upgrade to weapons and radars and other sensors in Rosyth Royal Dockyard and sailed back to Plymouth last year. This was the first port visit that HMS Portland has conducted since her refit.

This was achieved through a demonstration of the ship’s ability to 140 guests, including the Lord Lieutenant of Dorset.

HMS Portland will now return to Plymouth and resume her sea trials in UK Waters before commencing a basic operational sea training in June.


Press Release, May 22, 2013; Image: Royal Navy